Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) confirmed this week that it is giving hi-def digital boxes to those lucky customers so they can have access to a range of HD networks, including the Voom lineup, in the operator's switched tier. Not exactly a big surprise, because the MSO has already indicated that it will rely heavily on switched digital video (SDV) to deliver some hi-def channels. (See Cablevision Confident About HD Capacity.)
Until new digital TVs with the tru2way (former OpenCable) platform on board become available, cable customers will require a set-top for access to interactive services such as video-on-demand and SDV, a bandwidth-saving technique that multicasts channels in the switched tier only when a customer in a given service group selects them for viewing. (See Cable's 'tru2way' Play .)
As the Zatznotfunny blog pointed out earlier this week, the MSO is trying to help out by giving away an HD box to those customers for free for a year.
Cable is working to solve the problems faced by these inherently one-way "hosts," which include digital TVs and a DVR from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) with dual CableCARD interfaces. The "tuning resolver" is said to be on a development fast-track, but no such products have become commercially available yet. (See CableLabs Spec Brings SDV to the Masses.)
So, in the meantime, those supposedly set-top-free digital TVs will still need a set-top, if customers actually want to use some of cable's more advanced video applications.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News